America's Concerns

Philadelphia Remembers May 13th Massacre

By Hans Bennett>

"Ona Move! Long Live John Africa! It has been 17 years since the city of Philadelphia dropped a bomb on living MOVE people. 6 adults, 5 children, and animals. No official has yet to go to jail for the murder of innocent MOVE people. MOVE people haven't killed any cop. Mumia Abu-Jamal hasn't killed any cop. Yet, MOVE people are in prison.

Ed Rendell had his hand in the murder of MOVE people and Ed Rendell is not in jail. Is that wrong? MOVE women are in jail on Mother's Day. They should be home with their children. They should be at home with their grandchildren. But they're not. They're in prison for being MOVE members. You've got women separated from their children for 30 years based on some judge's opinion. You've got grandmothers separated from their grandchildren based on some judges opinion, some vile, corrupt judge's opinion for something he never saw.

These judges saw MOVE people murdered in daylight! They saw the bomb dropped on May 13, 1985. When MOVE people tried to come out of their house they were met with gunfire forcing them to go back into the house to die. On Mother's Day (Sunday, May 12, 2001) approximately 50 protesters gathered at the corner of Broad and Walnut to disrupt Center City and send a clear message that MOVE has not forgotten the bombing.

Most importantly, MOVE has only grown stronger. The bombing revealed the terroristic nature of the U.S. government to the entire world and served to spread MOVE's message even farther. Several speakers railed against the City of Philadelphia with a biting and profoundly inspiring speech style that is characterstic of MOVE's truthful and confrontational nature. These amazing speeches (a portion of which is featured in the above quote) along with many signs, a stunning mural talking about May 13, and 11 caskets with the names of the 11 MOVE family members murdered, made for an exciting day in Center City's shopping district.

Last year, on May 12 I was at a San Francisco demonstration for Mumia Abu-Jamal. During the demonstration, one speaker read an essay Mumia had written for the day. Jamal argues that the May 13, 1985 MOVE bombing was highly symbolic in that it has opened the door for outright domestic military assaults upon U.S. citizens. Police terror and violence towards revolutionaries and poor people of color in general exhibits a disturbing pattern. In his essay "May 13th Remembered" (from his book All Things Censored) Mumia explains: The twisted mentalities at work here are akin to those of Nazi Germany, or perhaps more appropriately, of My Lai, of Vietnam, of Baghdad, the spirit behind the mindlessly murderous mantra that echoed out of Dan Ang: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." As abroad, so here at home. For as the flames smothered life on Osage Avenue, police and politicians spoke of "destroying the neighborhood surrounding the MOVE house, in order to save it."

Now cops patrol neighborhoods across America, armed like storm troopers, with a barely disguised urge to destroy the very area they are sworn to "serve and protect." Or perhaps we should say "sever and dissect." (end of Mumia quote)

The example of the MOVE bombing where police shot into the house while it was burning down (to ensure that those inside would burn to death and not escape) does provide a perfect parallel to U.S. sponsorship of state terror in colonies abroad. Just as the U.S. (and it's surrogates in the third world) employ terror tactics to terrify conquered populations and ensure their subordination, so too it uses these tactics (in a somewhat milder form) at home. The MOVE bombing is reflective of the increased paramilitary nature of police forces. Just as abroad, the U.S. government wages a counterinsurgency war upon US citizens.

THE PHILADELPHIA POLICE TERRORISM CONTINUES TODAY!In an exclusive interview during the May 12, 2002 demonstration, Mario Africa explained that police intimidation and bullying of the MOVE organization continues today. When I asked him how he thought the police and the City of Philadelphia differed today from 1985, he told me that the police are just as evil but that they have improved their public relations image. Today it does not look good to be savagely assaulting and murdering MOVE people on TV. Therefore, the dirty work is more secret and behind closed doors. Mario reported that in addition to 24/7 surveillance of the West Philly MOVE house on Kingsessing (where Mario lives) Philadelphia police continue to fly helicopters over their home. While the helicopter visits average 2-4 / month, sometimes the helicopters will hover low directly above the house for as long as one hour. Given the history of the May 13th bombing, this is absolutely horrifying and well illustrates the climate in AmeriKKKa in the year 2002.

Hans Bennett is an anarchist and independent photojournalist currently working with the Philadelphia-based INSUBORDINATION and AWOL magazines. He can be reached via e-mail: Or via: INSUBORDINATION P. O. Box 30770 Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA

Editor's note: All the MOVE people are in the second edition of this magazine with the demand to free them, allow them to sue for false arrest, and provide them with money to go home.


TRUE DEMOCRACY Summer 2002 Copyright © 2002 by News Source, Inc.